Law addressing hot car dangers in effect

STATEWIDE -- The Humane Society of the United States applauds Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper for signing a bill that will provide new protection to prevent heat-related deaths in a vehicle. The law went into effect on August 9.

The law provides immunity from criminal and civil liability to individuals who follow certain precautions and then decide it is necessary to break into a vehicle to save the life of a dog, cat or person. This will help prevent needless deaths when first responders are not able to arrive at the scene in time.

Under the new law, Coloradoans will receive immunity under certain circumstances, including a reasonable belief that the person or animal is in imminent danger of death or serious injury, the vehicle is locked and reasonable effort to locate the owner or operator of the vehicle has been made.

Anyone attempting to enter a locked vehicle to rescue a child, dog or cat must notify emergency responders, such as the fire department or animal control agency, before entering the vehicle and must obey any lawful order. Except for rare exceptions, rescuers must remain with the vehicle until law enforcement or a first responder arrives.

Aubyn Royall, Colorado state director for The HSUS, says: “We are grateful to the legislature and Governor Hickenlooper for signing this bill into law. It raises public awareness, provides direction for ordinary citizens who face an emergency situation with an animal or person in a hot car, and demonstrates that Colorado supports those who take necessary action to save a life. We are pleased that our Good Samaritan law has been strengthened and now includes animals.”

Reps. Lori Saine, R-63rd district, and Joann Ginal, D-52nd district, and Sens. Lois Court, D-31st district, and Vicki Marble, D-23rd district, sponsored the bill.

On a 72-degree day, a car’s internal temperature can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 80-degree day, a car’s internal temperature can shoot up to a sweltering 99 degrees in just 10 minutes. Cracking the windows has been shown to have very little impact on the temperature.